Arts and Entertainment

“Only Murders in the Building” Kills It

A review of “Only Murders in the Building,” Hulu’s new murder mystery.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A true-crime lover’s dream, “Only Murders in the Building” features a trio of New Yorkers simultaneously trying to solve a murder and get their big break into the world of podcasts. With a story that continuously peels back more and more layers of mystery, alongside a healthy dose of humor, the show infuses a classic murder mystery with comedy and, needless to say, kills it.

“Only Murders in the Building” features the unexpected trio (both in real life and in the show) of neighbors Mabel (Selena Gomez), Charles (Steve Martin), and Oliver (Martin Short). After fellow tenant Tim Kono (Julian Cihi) dies mysteriously, they team up to solve what they believe was a murder. As they begin their investigation, Oliver also has the idea of creating the trio’s own true-crime podcast: “Only Murders in the Building.”

An almost-serious murder mystery is new ground for seasoned comedians Steve Martin and Martin Short. Charles’s more reserved personality and dedication to the investigation contrasts well with Oliver’s more outgoing nature and dedication to the podcast, keeping time with the classic dynamic of the two without taking the spotlight. On top of that, the show is even more of a stretch for popidol and Wizards of Waverly Place star Selena Gomez. Despite this, all three have great chemistry with each other on screen.

The seasoned comics work well with Mabel, whose character is more serious and mysterious. Charles and Mabel connect on a shared reserved quality, while Mabel and Oliver connect over their constant dedication to the investigation. While the core trio is definitely unorthodox, something they are able to admit through humor, they work surprisingly well together. The age gap between the two men and Mabel provides moments of cross-generational comedy, full of cheeky outdated references and explanations of modern slang. Despite not always fitting the serious tone, the comedy ties in well because it mainly consists of quick, witty banter between the characters that gets the viewers’ attention but isn’t drawn-out. Not only does the wit of the show shine through in the dialogue, but it also shows in the trio’s parody of a podcast team.

While the plot and writing help balance the different aspects of the show, the overall structure also plays into the show’s appeal. The pacing is slow, but it works with the suspense of the mystery surrounding the characters, especially Mabel. From the start, she is presented as a very private, closed-off character, but as the episodes progress, we get more insight into her personal life and her past. The storylines and mysteries are balanced such that “Only Murders” never feels tedious which could easily be the case with less skillful execution. And, as a result of the pacing, each episode has a chance to go in depth on a specific and engaging aspect of the investigation.

Not only does the pacing play into the sense of mystery within the show, but the aesthetics are also perfectly catered to the tone. The muted, earthy color scheme along with the dim lighting give it a cozy and old-timey feel that adds to the curious nature of the characters and the investigation. The building’s aesthetics play into the sense of wealth that comes from the characters, something that could influence the case.

A combination of classic murder mystery and modern comedy, “Only Murders in the Building” has it all. Full of twists and turns with witty humor included, the show is a genre-bending delight. The mystery is continuing to unfold with new episodes still coming out, and they’re sure to die for.